Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Democrat Fundraisers Get Windfall in Shutdown Fight

So far, the Capitol Hill standoff over the budget, the debt ceiling and "Obamacare" has clearly benefited Democratic fundraisers, according to the Federal Election Commission and reports from independent and party-affiliated groups. In September, before the government shutdown, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which funds campaigns of candidates for the House of Representatives, raised $8.4 million, topping the $5.3 million of its Republican counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). Similarly, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) raised more in September than the Republican National Committee (RNC) for the first time in 2013, with the Dems raking in $7.4 million, up from just $4.3 million in August, compared with the GOP's $7.1 million. The Democrats got some encouragement for their Senate hopes, too; the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) raised more than its Republican counterpart in September, with $4.6 million to the GOP $3.6 million. Meanwhile, the "Obamacare" controversy benefited independent fundraisers at both ends of the political spectrum. Organizing for Action, the group that grew out of Obama's successful re-election campaign, raised more than $7.7 million from July through September to promote Obamacare. In opposition, the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF), co-founded by former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, a leader in the Tea Party movement, brought in $2.1 million in September, up from $1.5 million in August. The allied conservative Club for Growth's political action committee raised almost $127,000 in September, and its Super PAC, an independent group that can raise unlimited amounts without disclosing contributors, tallied another $282,000, which it added to $683,770 collected in August. The independent conservative fundraising isn't good news for some Republicans in upcoming elections, however. For example, the SCF has endorsed Matt Bevin, a Tea Party challenger to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. See more details at http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-10-23/news/sns-rt-us-usa-fiscal-fundraising-20131023_1_obamacare-fight-shutdown-healthcare-law

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Did Starbucks' Social Politicking Miss the Mark?

Starbucks recently waded into the churning political waters of the federal government shutdown and debt ceiling deadline with a social-media petition drive dubbed #ComeTogether. Over 2 million voters signed the petition to tell Congress to reopen the federal government, pay its bills and craft a bipartisan long-term budget by the end of the year. The campaign started Oct. 7 with a Tweet and ads in major newspapers, followed by an Instagram video, a Facebook campaign, more Twitter requests, and a Pinterest post. The petition delivery to Congress and President Obama was set for Oct. 16. Starbucks has been involved in advocacy before, including support of marriage equality, and has been criticized for using its commercial market for cause marketing. However, a recent article for ClickZ highlighted a different problem with Starbucks' most recent social media politicking: The petition campaign missed opportunities to engage beyond a one-time click, noted Boyd Neil, senior vice president of Hill+Knowlton Strategies, in an interview. Boyd suggested tactics such as using supporter zip codes to send contact info of Congressional representatives to incite more targeted voter pressure, as well as gathering e-mail addresses for followup, action-oriented advocacy e-mails. The increased engagement would have made the campaign more powerful and less open to charges of "slacktivism." Neil is quoted: "It's the responsibility of people who organize opposition to move people from where they are now to a place where they take more action. If I sign the petition, it's not my fault I don't do something else. It's the weakness of the person who's posted the petition." Political campaigners, take heed. For the full article, go to http://www.clickz.com/clickz/news/2301109/how-starbucks-cometogether-social-media-petition-could-have-been-better

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

California Campaigns Must Report Paid Social Posts

California's Fair Political Practices Commission, the state's campaign watchdog agency, has ruled that political campaigns must report when they pay people to post favorable or unfavorable content on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites. The commission said it acted out of concern that the public might be deceived into thinking paid content on blogs is objective political commentary. A Los Angeles Times news story quotes Commission Chairwoman Ann Ravel: "The public is entitled to know who is paying for campaigns and campaign opinions, so the weight to be given to the views can be evaluated by voters." The new rules require disclosure by campaigns that pay someone $500 or more to post favorable or unfavorable content on Internet sites not run by the campaigns. The campaign’s periodic finance report would have to identify who is paid, how much is paid, and to which website or URL the posting was made. That reporting is not required if the blog or website itself identifies the content as paid for by a campaign. The new rules, which follow the lead of Maine, are unpopular with some in the "blogosphere" but were endorsed by open-government groups, including Consumer Watchdog, as a way to bring “sunshine” to a growing field of political communications. See the L.A. Times story at http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-pc-state-adopts-new-rule-campaigns-must-say-when-they-pay-for-web-posts-20130919,0,1576392.story

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Facebook 'Like' Ruled Protected by 1st Amendment

A federal appeals court in Virginia has ruled that the act of "liking" a political candidate's campaign on Facebook is protected speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In the case before the appeals court, former employees of a sheriff's office said they lost their jobs as a result of supporting a political opponent of their boss by endorsing the opponent's campaign page on Facebook. “Liking a political candidate’s campaign page communicates the user’s approval of the candidate and supports the campaign by associating the user with it,” U.S. Circuit Judge William Traxler wrote in the appeals court decision. “It is the Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one’s front yard, which the Supreme Court has held is substantive speech.” The ruling was also a win for Facebook, which had argued before the appeals panel that the “Like” feature is vital to 500 million people who share ideas on the social network and must have free-speech protection. For the actual court opinion, go to http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/121671.P.pdf. For a Bloomberg news report with background and reaction, see http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-18/facebook-like-is-protected-speech-appeals-court-says.html

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Disclaimer Exemption Sought for Mobile Political Ads

A digital political advertising firm is asking the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to exempt banner ads for mobile devices from the disclaimer language required for most political advertising, according to a report in The Huffington Post. Revolution Messaging, a digital advertising firm founded by Scott Goodstein, who was external online director for President Barack Obama's first presidential campaign, is making the exemption request, arguing that mobile devices are too small to ensure that the disclaimer naming the group responsible for the advertisement would not "dwarf the ad entirely," the story says. All public communications by political committees are required by federal campaign finance law to state, in a "clear and conspicuous" manner, the name of the responsible political committee and whether it was authorized by a candidate. In previous opinions, the FEC has ruled that text message ads under 160 characters qualify for the disclaimer exemption, as do Google and Facebook ads, so long as the disclaimer appears on the landing page reached by clicking on the ad. Revolution Messaging is hoping the FEC will extend those precedents to mobile advertising. See the full story at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/11/mobile-advertising-fec_n_3908020.html